What is home education?

rekenenHome education is a form of education in which parents take responsibility for their child’s education. They create an inspiring and social learning environment in which individual learning plays a central role.

Individual learning methods

There are many different forms of home education. Some families use the same materials as schools. Other home educators choose a more project-based, or experience-based approach, or they focus on natural learning. There are many possible variations and combinations and parents tend to choose the method that most closely matches their child’s learning style. Parents can make use of the wide variety of learning materials and resources available on the internet, distance learning, school methods, experts, family members and networks of home educators.

Home education: We’re in this together!

A home education programme includes regular excursions: into nature, to the library, or to playgrounds, workshops and museums. Home educated children meet other children in their music, art or sports activities, in their neighbourhood and at get-togethers and outings with other home educating families. The home educators of the Netherlands are an active group, exchanging knowledge, experience and resources. Most home educating families meet on a regular basis in different places throughout the country. Cities such as Amsterdam, Haarlem, Utrecht, Leiden and Nijmegen all have their own forums and events.

Inquisitive children and parents

Home educators tend to be very inquisitive and broad-minded adults, who enjoy learning about diverse and innovative methods of learning. For these parents, offering one-on-one education to their children is a natural follow-up to the learning process through which they have been guiding their children in their first years of life. Meetings and lectures are organised on a yearly basis with speakers coming from as far as the US to speak of their long-lived experience with ‘homeschooling’ or ‘home education’.

An effective form of education

Home education is an innovative form of education which has been proven to be effective in a variety of studies both in the Netherlands and abroad. Comparison with school-going children has shown that home educated children are either equally or more advanced in their academic progress and their socio-emotional development. They score equally well or better in various tests and are often more socially apt and more mature. In addition, they find it easier to transition into higher education and their motivation to learn remains high or even increases with time (see list of sources below).

The success of home education as a form of education is partially due to the effectiveness of one-on-one learning. The individual guidance allows parents to adapt education to the pace and learning style of their child. In addition, the home situation provides a quiet, varied and stable learning environment.

Pedagogical staff member of a child daycare centre speaks of three home educated children (aged 3, 5 and 7): ‘In my fifteen years of experience at the child daycare – and in particular in after-school daycare – I have consistently seen young school children come in exhausted and become quickly overwhelmed by the noise, stimuli and lack of rest. I have rarely had an afternoon in which I did not have to resolve crises or play police agent. If I compare this to the oasis of calm and equilibrium that I consistently encounter at the house of my home educating friend, I can only say that I would wish this for all children. The free spirit and self-confidence that emanates from these children, plus the love and safety of a stable home, all contribute in my opinion to the optimal development of these children.’

Home education and the law

In the Netherlands, there is a small group of parents who home educate their children. These parents make use of an exemption from compulsory education on the basis of Article 5, clause b of the Compulsory Education Law. This article states that parents can make use of their right to an exemption from compulsory education if there is no school nearby that matches their life philosophy. In order to make use of this Article, a number of conditions must be met. To find out more about the legal aspects of home education, see here.

Is home education for everyone?

In the Netherlands, there are over 800 home educated children. Home education is not for everyone. It is for those families who have consciously chosen for it. Home educated children have very dedicated parents who are closely involved in their development. These parents make conscious choices in terms of finances, career and time that allow them to home educate. Families that choose home education can be found in among all walks of life. The decision to home educate is not taken lightly. Long before the children reach school-going age, parents thoroughly investigate the option to home educate and develop extensive knowledge of the various options and requirements.


[1] Kunzman, R. & Gaither, M. (2013). Homeschooling: A comprehensive survey of the research. Other Education: The Journal of Educational Alternatives, 2(1): 4-59.

[2] Blok. H. (2004). Is school echt zo belangrijk voor de sociaal-emotionele ontwikkeling? Jeugd in School en Wereld, 89(1), 29-32.

[3] Merry, M. & Howell, C. (2009). Can intimacy justify home education? Theory and Research in Education, 7(3), 363-381.

[4] Medlin, R. G. (2000). Home schooling and the question of socialization. Peabody Journal of Education, 75(1&2), 107-123.

[5] Reavis, R. & Zakriski, A. (2005). Are home-schooled children socially at-risk or socially protected? The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter, 21(9).

[6] Blok, H. (2002). De effectiviteit van thuisonderwijs, een overzicht van onderzoeksresultaten. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Onderwijsrecht en Onderwijsbeleid, jaargang 14, nr. 4, p. 151-163.

[7] Smith, C. & Sikkink, D. (1999). Is private school privatizing? First Things, 92, 16- 20.

[8] Ray, B. D. (2004). Home educated and now adults: Their community and civic involvement, views about homeschooling, and other traits. Salem, OR: NHERI Publications.